Nigeria will this week start prosecuting suspected pirates under a new law, a senior official said.
The Gulf of Guinea in West Africa is a global hotspot for attacks against ships. There was a spike in hostage-taking in 2019, with the area accounting for more than 90% of kidnappings of the crew reported at sea last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Alleged pirates who were recently arrested by the country’s navy will be the first to stand trial under legislation approved last June, Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, said in an emailed statement.
“The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have standalone antipiracy legislation,” he said.
The new legislation provides a definition of piracy and sets out specific punishments for violations, which include life imprisonment. The Nigerian navy and police have arrested 27 people for piracy in the past two months, Jamoh said.